Director Christ and her communications assistant Steve Elliott have been making statements in the media recently suggesting that Arizona is doing terrific when it comes to the equity of vaccine administration in Arizona.
They have been basing their statements on this CDC MMWR that found AZ had a high level of COVID vaccine coverage in Arizona counties that have a high social vulnerability index. The method used by the CDC compared COVID vaccination rates in counties with high and low social vulnerability indices.
The report did not examine vaccine coverage within counties. CDC’s study design was not designed to detect equity differences inside counties with urban areas like Maricopa and Pima counties (where more than 80% of Arizonans live).
The conclusions in the CDC report that AZ performs well reflect the fact that tribal nations, governments, and the IHS have done a good job vaccinating Native Americans that live in counties with large numbers of Native Americans (and a high social vulnerability index).
The CDC report cannot and should not be used to draw a conclusion that Arizona is doing well vaccinating lower income and persons of color in Arizona. We are not.
For example, even though 32% of Arizonans are of Hispanic descent, only about 11% of all the persons of Hispanic ethnicity have been vaccinated so far in Arizona. Only 6% of the persons that have been vaccinated at the “state run” PODS have been Hispanic.
The county health departments are working hard to address this disparity with community-based vaccination events. We believe that county health departments should be given a much larger share of the allocated vaccine because their equity performance is much better than that of the “state run” PODS.
Sadly, Director Christ does not see it that way, as she continues to over-allocate vaccine to the stadium-type mega sites at the expense of community-based vaccine sites. We urge her to change this practice, although we do not expect her to do so.